Posted on June 9, 2015

Insidious 3 Film Review: Darkness, Depression & Disease


PG-13     |     97 min     |     2015     |     USA     |     Leigh Whannell

Review: Insidious 3 sheds light on darkness, depression, and disease.

Synopsis:     A prequel to the series, this installment provides insight into Elise Rainier and the use of her abilities to help others. She teaches the audience about her talent and about The Further. When you call upon one person they all hear you…and when you go into the darkness, things come back with you.

Like the recent film, Unfriended this film places suicide as a main actor in the film.[i] In Unfriended the actions of others lead to the darkness that befell Laura Barnes which later justified the haunting of her assailants. However, Insidious delves deeper into the psyche by exposing the levels of despair like Dante’s nine circles of hell. Insidious illuminates depression, despair and despondency, and then sprinkles it with the uniquely horrific experience of losing a life to suicide or through disease. Both of these are often unexplainable ends which leave the living with unanswered questions that might push them to stick their head down the rabbit hole of depression. Each of the characters is touched by tragedy, sickness, and suicide. How they cope with such tragedy determines if they become a victim of the darkness.

INSIDIOUS 3Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) became susceptible to her demon succubus after calling out to her dead mother. She is contrasted by her father Sean (Dermot Mulroney) who grieves appropriately but accepts that an unhealthy focus on the dead comes at the expense of living. He mourns and appreciates seeing his wife through his daughter but he does not dwell in the darkness. [ii] Only when she feels she botched her audition and (in her mind) her whole life plan, does Quinn see the man who can’t breathe. Presumably, she became further depressed after the loss of her mother and failing at her audition. This downward spiral opens her up to see the Man Who Can’t Breathe for the first time after her audition. Similarly, Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) only sees the woman in black after she goes looking for her husband. Once she lost her husband to suicide, Elise called out to the dead and, like Quinn, subsequently fell into depression and opened the door for her tormentor. Only upon realizing her greatest asset is her living was Elise able to defeat the dead.

When Elise slinks through the hallway past the victims of the Man Who Can’t Breathe she learns that he cajoled them all into committing suicide. He is the festering, diseased thoughts that gain life by stealing the life and breath from others. The dripping wet victim says that she heard his voice in her head and that it didn’t stop once she killed herself. As overt as Big Fun, Don’t Do It in Heathers, this is clearly a reminder that suicide does not solve problems. Despair is remedied by the divine maternal intervention and Lilly’s message is clear to Quinn, you are loved, appreciated, and worthy all which is echoed in her letter.


Two sides of the same coin, Quinn’s angel and demon seemed to suffer the same fate. Her mother, Lilly died at the hands of cancer while the Man Who Can’t Breathe most likely succumbed to emphysema. Both are equally awful. Perhaps that which separates the two is their culpability. Lilly had no hand in contracting breast cancer; in fact she was so great that Quinn’s gallows humor suggests that even the cancer wanted to be around her just a little bit longer. The unprovoked ailments of Lilly are contrasted by the Man Who Can’t Breathe who more than likely participated in his demise by smoking cigarettes. Once Quinn stopped dwelling on her mother’s death and accepted that Lilly will no longer visit this world, she was able to move on. By living among the living, true life began.


This film was surprisingly great. I had low expectations as I am not a fan of the first two chapters. However this one packs a punch that I have not seen in some time. The audience literally lifted out of their seats and screamed so loud that security stepped in to check on us. I have not heard a collective visceral reaction like that in ages. The film manages to be smart, suspenseful and does not rely on special effects or any other cheap tricks. There are times that you definitely know that something bad is about to happen, but you certainly don’t imagine it being executed in the way this film does. I whole heartedly applaud this film and recommend it to anyone. . . except to the genius who brought in his elementary school kid and left mid movie as the child was crying and covering his/her eyes and ears. I am all about making sacrifice to see a GREAT horror film, but that kid is certainly going to sleep with the lights on tonight, as will many more that enjoyed this film along with me!

Grade:   A+

Did Dawn agree with Gwen’s take? Check out her review here.

[i] This is interesting as the cdc and afsp determine that while suicide rates are rebounding from a lull in 2000, teens and young adults are consistently at lower rates than any other demographic.

[ii] The contrast between Quinn and her father is actually quite representative of the debate about Complicated Grief Disorder its addition to the DSM-V (2013). Here is a link about the diagnosis

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